A heritage site in Taipei that has preserved more than 70 years of history as a brothel, which was opened to the public under the management of the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters (COSWAS), may have to close down because the new property owner had asked the group to move out of the building.
The Wen Men Building, a two-story building constructed in 1925, mainly served as a brothel for the working class during the Japanese colonial period. It became a legal brothel in 1956 and was a popular place for years until the Taipei City Government outlawed sex work in 1997, COSWAS secretary Wu Jo-ying (吳若瑩) said.
Licensed sex workers were totally banned in 2001, Wu said.
Inside the building were small rooms, each featuring a bed with floral-patterned sheets and a small dresser. Pictures of people who used to work in the building still hung on the walls, along with a faded notification paper from the city government in 1978 prohibiting people under the age of 20 from entering the building.
COSWAS, a group that supports licensed sex workers and promotes the legal working rights of women in the sex trade, had rented the first floor of the building for the past 14 years, using it as an office and an educational site for the public to learn about the history of the sex industry.
Although the building has been designated a municipal heritage site by the city’s Department of Culture Affairs in 2006, the new property owner, surnamed Liu (劉), who bought the building last year, filed a lawsuit against the group, asking it to move out.
The Shihlin District Court (士林地方法院) ruled against COSWAS last month, demanding the group vacate the building. The ruling has allowed Liu to proceed with the group’s eviction.
COSWAS and support groups held a press conference in front of the building yesterday morning, calling for the conservation of the cultural heritage site.
Wu said the group suspected that the new owner’s intention is to sell and profit from the transfer of development rights on a heritage site or for urban renewal after buying the land from the Bank of Taiwan.
COSWAS executive director Chung Chun-chu (鍾君竺) said the group had received funding from the Department of Culture Affairs in the past, but it was not informed of the property transfer until it was asked to move out by the new owner.
Wu said the department had neglected its duty by not giving the group pre-emptive rights, as stipulated in the Cultural Heritage Conservation Act (文化資產保存法), to purchase the building to preserve its cultural significance.
Based on the court’s ruling, the eviction can be temporarily halted if the group posts bond in the amount of NT$3.3 million (US$111,486), Wu said, adding that the group was seeking funding from the government as well as from the public.
John Liu (劉可強), a professor at National Taiwan University’s Graduate Institute of Building and Planning, said allowing former workers to narrate the building’s history was important in preserving the cultural meaning of Wen Meng Building.
Since the new Cabinet has said it would promote social justice, it should respect the history of such cultural sites.
“The government should allow cultural diversity in society and should not allow economic growth to take precedence over cultural values,” said Lee Hsiu-chien (李修鑑), a cultural history workshop owner.
COSWAS said it would appeal against the ruling and continue to seek support to keep the last remaining brothel heritage building.
Phase 2 clinical trial results of the Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp’s COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday were published on the Web site of The Lancet: Respiratory Medicine, in an early preview before publication. The study paves the way for other nations to issue emergency use authorizations or produce the Medigen vaccine, given The Lancet’s credibility as a highly respected medical journal with a rigorous peer-review process, Medigen’s international affairs director Lien Chia-en (連加恩) said. Lien said that the study is important as it proposes methods for converting international units for efficacy comparisons. The methods have been used for correlating the efficacy of hepatitis B
Ambassador Theaters on Tuesday announced that its Breeze Center cinemas in Taipei’s Songshan District (松山) would close late this month after screening thousands of major Hollywood movies and local favorites over two decades. Ambassador Theaters, one of the largest cinema chain operators in Taiwan, said that Oct. 25 would be the last day the Breeze Center cinemas screen movies, adding that its lease expires on that day. “We sincerely appreciate the support and recognition from audiences in Taipei over the past 20 years,” the company said. “We look forward to seeing you again in the future.” The cinemas started operating in 2001, upon
LIABILITIES MULLED: New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi said Taipei would find out if the firm was legally registered, the guide was licensed and the weather was assessed The assets of Tian Da Local Nature Co are to be frozen after at least four people died after falling into the Beishi River (北勢溪) on an outing the company had organized on Saturday, the Taipei City Government said yesterday. Six people — two adults and four children — were washed away by a flash flood on the river in New Taipei City’s Hubaotan (虎豹潭) area. They were participating in a Nature Joy Camp outdoor activity with a group of 16 adults and 15 children led by a guide surnamed Su (蘇). As of 4:30pm yesterday, four of the missing had been
THREATS: Dismissing Beijing’s assertion that its military exercises only target Taiwanese separatists, Chiu Kuo-cheng said war has no regard for political affiliation In case Taiwan is attacked, the military will defend the nation and not stand by like “plastic toys,” Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said yesterday at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee. Chiu was responding to Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) asking him to clarify his remark last week that “the military holds to the principle that we will not fire the first shot.” Wang asked Chiu whether he meant what he said literally or that Taiwan would not start a war. “The Republic of China will not start a war,” Chiu